This past Tuesday night, I (along with Sean) was the blessed to be an “accomplice” in my buddy Mike’s marriage proposal to his girlfriend Jennifer. It was an amazing and unforgettable night, in large part because Jenn had no idea that the proposal was coming and she was caught completely off-guard.
Thankfully, she said yes…haha.
Mike had been planning the proposal for the past two months, and in the last week in particular we exchanged a flurry of emails, texts, and phone calls as we finalized the details. Our plan was quite elaborate and quite brilliant if I may say so myself…as was the execution. The acting on the other hand….
It got me to thinking about the importance of planning and execution in youth ministry. Now I admit that I’m the first one to say that youth ministry should be about people and not programs. And that we shouldn’t spend more time preparing skits and talks than hanging out with young people or praying for them.
But it’s amazing how much a difference a well-planned night or event makes in the eyes of teens. When a night flows well, when the transitions are smooth, and when the leaders seem to know what’s coming up next, it adds to the overall positive experience for the participants. In general, it will keep them more engaged and hopefully wanting to come back.
Granted, different youth leaders have different gifts. Some youth leaders are more adept at “winging it” than others. But “winging it” should really be the exception and not the norm.
Thus, I encourage you to spend a proper amount of time in reviewing details – big and small. Skits need to be well-rehearsed (this isn’t Whose Line is it Anyway?). Same goes for teachings and testimonies. Have youth leaders review the small group discussion questions before gathering into groups. And don’t forget about transitions between different facets – there is nothing worse than a bunch of “dead time” because you forgot to test the LCD projector or forgot to get into costume for the closing skit.
Sure, it’s going to take more time and preparation. But the young people are worth it.